Episode 4. Assigned to the Cavalry (2)

“What? He can’t ride a horse?”

Frederick, company commander of the 24th Regiment of the Adenburg Kingdom Army, had a bewildered expression.

“That is, he said he’s never ridden a horse…”

Clark, captain of the third platoon and in charge of the foreign recruit, answered with a helpless face.

“Why is someone like that in the cavalry?”

“I checked his class. He’s a dragon rider, so he’s definitely a rider of some sort.”

“Then shouldn’t he have skills or something? All those foreigners are able to run wild thanks to those amazing abilities of theirs!”

Clark, at worst second in the cavalry in terms of toughness, bowed his head when Frederick, known for being hot-headed, became angry.

“He says he doesn’t have any skills.”

“He has no skills?”

“He doesn’t have the basic horse riding skill. This must have been a mistake by the people in charge.”

With that, Frederick’s rage was redirected towards the officials in charge of recruit placement.

“Why are they so bad at their jobs! Those bastards twirling their pens at their desks really have no idea what’s happening in the real world.”

It was only after a while that Frederick stopped cursing the administrative officials and calmed down.

“Teach him.”

“Huh?”

“If he’s never ridden a horse, then teach him how to.”

“Shouldn’t we send him to a different division?”

When Clark expressed his discomfort at the unexpected order, Frederick gritted his teeth and replied.

“Those foreigners are given special treatment by the kingdom. This is a shitty situation, but there’s nothing I can do about it. All we can do is teach him to be a part of our regiment.”

“Ugh. It’ll be a while before he’s actually useful.”

“Train him well and make sure he doesn’t die until then.”

“Do we need to protect him?”

“There’s nothing we can do about it if he dies because he’s incompetent, but we’ll be reprimanded by our superiors if his death is too ridiculous. So do what you can.”

There was no command more burdensome than ‘do what you can.’ However, Clark had no intention of further provoking his quick-tempered commander, so he accepted the order and left the barracks.

“What did he say? Will we send him somewhere else?”

A waiting rider asked Clark as soon as he left the barracks.

“No. We’ve been ordered to teach him everything, from walking to pissing to shitting.”

The rider made a sour and bewildered expression.

“Isn’t that ridiculous? This isn’t a training center for new recruits. We’ll die trying to babysit him.”

“Those were our orders. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

“Anything else? Do we have to spoon feed him too?”

“Ugh. Well just try to make sure he doesn’t die in vain. The company commander’s worried that this will get in the way of his promotions.”

The rider finally exploded.

“That’s ridiculous! In our situation, even the veteran riders among us can die if we’re not careful. How are we supposed to keep that loser kid who can’t even ride a horse alive? They’re telling us to die for him!”

“I know!”

Clark’s voice was full of resentment.

“Work that bastard so hard that he’ll want to desert. Those foreigners are famous for their weak mentality, and if he does, that’s good for us.”

And so, Kim Seon-Hyeok’s fate was decided without him knowing. He had managed to escape the hellish training facility, but a new hell was waiting for him.

“Hm? Why am I getting the chills…”

Kim Seon-Hyeok stood shivering without knowing the cruel fate awaiting him.

 

***

 

“Ugh, you good for nothing bastard! Why are you so useless even when we make things so easy!”

The verbal abuse began. Kim Seon-Hyeok was ridiculed and persecuted for being a rider incapable of riding horses. However, he simply gritted his teeth and trained hard, bewildered by his own situation.

Nonetheless, he could not help but feel that he was in an unfair situation, especially when others ran over to call him useless while he was on the ground groaning in pain from having fallen off his horse.

“Why? Are you upset I called you useless? Then just do it right!”

“I’m trying!”

“Talking back now? Huh? Do you think we’re a joke just because you beat Hansen?”

There was a huge difference between a mounted and unmounted rider. Kim Seon-Hyeok’s sense of superiority from having beaten Hansen didn’t last, and he shrank back at the tremendous spirit exuding from the riders.

“I’ll do it! I’ll do it!”

“Yeah, please figure it out. Even the foot soldiers pulling the carts would be a hundred times better than you.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok endured the pain of falling off his horse and the verbal abuse from his comrades through his determination. However, he was bothered by his stagnant horsemanship.

“Please listen! Listen to me!”

Perhaps he was just hated by the entire species. As soon as he got on a horse, it would go berserk and attempt to throw him off. Even when he barely managed to hang on with his lacking horsemanship, it was difficult to make the horse take even one step forward.

“Ugh, you cursed bastard. You must have been cursed by the god of horses.”

“I can keep going!”

By this point, the rider in charge of his training was ready to throw his hands up in resignation.

“Even if you can, the horse can’t. We can’t harm our precious horses trying to train an unskilled bastard like you.”

Was this prioritization of horses over humans normal for riders? Or should he be disappointed? Kim Seon-Hyeok trudged to his quarters with a complicated heart.

“Oh! Seon-Hyeok!”

Someone called out to him as he was mindlessly walking. After being berated and cursed at nonstop, it was almost more uncomfortable having someone call his name in a friendly voice.

“Ah. Jeong-Tae hyung.”

“It’s been a while. Is that the cavalry uniform? It’s nice!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t understand how his uniform, caked in dirt and dust, could be considered nice. If anything, it was Kang Jeong-Tae who looked great.

“Did you notice? Your hyung just became a captain. It might only be ten people, but I have subordinates now.

“Congratulations. That’s great.”

With a few soulless words of congratulations, Kim Seon-Hyeok turned to leave. When he returned to the barracks, nobody welcomed him back, and they instead stared at him as if he was a cow or chicken.

“Hang in there, pretty. It’s not easy becoming a real man.”

Only Jonasson, the rider with unique tastes, came over with comforting words.

“How about you get rid of that hand first?”

If it wasn’t for the hand that gently grabbed his rear, Kim Seon-Hyeok might have been comforted. However, it wasn’t even as though Jonasson’s playful words were sincere.

What’s the problem? Aren’t dragon riders also riders?

Even the more obedient horses would run wild as soon as he tried to ride them. If anything, it was strange that Kim Seon-Hyeok was even able to make progress.

After pondering this for a while, he gave up and was trying to fall asleep when a voice called out.

[How stupid.]

Was the verbal abuse about to start again? Kim Seon-Hyeok pretended not to hear the disagreeable voice and went under his blanket.

[How pathetic.]

The voice coming through the blanket was clear, as if it was speaking directly into his head.

[Unable to ride even those low-level animals…]

“Oh, come on!”

Already stressed out, Kim Seon-Hyeok bolted upright and shouted. The other riders, who were in the middle of their personal maintenance, stared at him as though he had eaten something wrong.

[I wanted to just watch, but you’re so useless that I had to step in.]

“Who is this!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok ignored the riders staring at him like he was a madman. He was terrified of the voice reverberating in his head.

[This will make the wait between us longer, there’s no other way.]

He was certain now. Nobody in the barracks ever spoke to him. No, even if they did, this mysterious voice was different from the rough voices of the other voices.

“W, who are you?”

A number of riders pointed their fingers at their heads and twirled them to suggest he was completely crazy. However, Kim Seon-Hyeok did not care. His heart started beating rapidly from his unfounded anticipation at what would come.

[I am…]

 

***

 

“What are you doing? Huh?”

It was Clark’s turn to try and train Kim Seon-Hyeok after his subordinates all gave up. However, when he reluctantly stepped out, he saw Kim Seon-Hyeok, who was already outside, doing something strange.

“One moment. Please wait a moment.”

He was face to face with the horse as if he was having a staring contest.

“Do whatever you want. I’ve half given up anyways.”

Clark did not bother stopping him. He might have been the captain, but he wasn’t anything exceptional. No, if anything, his subordinate in charge of training was his superior when it came to horsemanship. As a result, Clark did not have high expectations.

“How do I make a man out of him…”

With a sigh, Clark laid down and watched what Kim Seon-Hyeok was doing.

“I am your master. I am your master.”

He looked like a madman, constantly muttering and with bloodshot eyes from straining himself.

“Hey you, that horse belongs to the cavalry. If you want your own horse, go buy one like the rest of us.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok seemed so pathetic, and Clark spoke out to him. However, Kim Seon-Hyeok paid no attention to those mocking words. He continued to mutter ‘I am your master, your master’, later even growling those words.

After a while, he backed off as though he was exhausted, and Clark slowly got up.

“Ugh. Okay then. Let’s see if you can get on the horse and have it take ten steps.”

Thinking he would at least hold the reins, Clark approached and saw an unexpected sight unfold in front of his eyes.

“Huh?”

The horse, which had been holding its head upright, gently lowered its head. As though that wasn’t enough, it even bent its front legs to lower its body further, much like a servant bowing before his king.

“Huh?”

It was still too early to be surprised. The real surprise came after.

Kim Seon-Hyeok, after stroking the head of the bowing horse several times, put his foot on the stirrup and jumped on. The stubborn military horse, which normally would have gone berserk and thrown him off, quietly obeyed for some reason.

“Let’s go.”

At his short command, the horse began to walk as if it understood.

“Huh? Huh!”

Clark made a ridiculous noise. Kim Seon-Hyeok’s riding posture was poor, and he couldn’t get into a rhythm, but he nonetheless succeeded in riding the horse.

“Oho! As expected, not anyone can be the captain! Clark did it!”

The subordinate, perhaps feeling sorry for dumping work on his superior or having his pride hurt after giving up on the training, returned and cheered upon seeing Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“Huh? Yeah.”

Clark began to wonder as he absentmindedly listened to his subordinate’s praise.

Just who is that guy?

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